Earlier this week, we looked back at how Fox had handled the online leak of the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. One specific area of interest was the contention by Fox’s co-chairman, Tom Rothman, who insisted that the version leaked was a good ten minutes shorter than the one that’s finally hit cinema screens. Because, as everyone surely knew would be discovered in due course, the leaked version was the exact same length as the final cut. More than that, it was the exact same film, albeit lacking crucial special effects.
This has led to derision being hurled in the direction of Rothman, even though he clearly had a tough call on his hands. In retrospect, he was hardly likely to come out and declare that yes, it was the same film that had been leaked. After all, as we pointed out earlier in the week, there’s no pre-determined playbook for when a major blockbuster leaks online weeks before its release.
That said, Rothman has still taken a fair share of criticism, with accusations of flat-out lying being hurled in his direction. But fortunately for him, a Fox spokesman has jumped forward to take the flack for him.
Chris Petrikin has now given an interview to the LA Times, and has admitted that it was he that passed the incorrect information over to Rothman, that formed the basis of the latter’s statement. Petrikin told the paper that “There was no ‘fibbing’ involved — that would imply that we were so on top of things that we anticipated having one of our biggest films of the year stolen and had time to concoct a plan to purposefully ‘spin’ wrong information.”
The film is now out in UK cinemas, with its US release tomorrow, and all eyes are on Sunday’s weekend numbers. Anything north of $70m for the weekend, and Fox will surely feel that it’s survived the leak, at least for the time being. Anything below that? Expect questions to be asked…